February 28, 2007

Wind power opens doors for new coal plants and transmission lines

A couple of recent news items illustrate how wind energy development is being used as the frontman for new coal plants and expansion of transmission lines.

First, a letter in the Feb. 28 West Central (Minn.) Tribune notes that a large new coal plant with transmission upgrades will be a necessary part of Minnesota's new effort to get 25% of their electricity from renewables.
The law is based on the results of the Minnesota Wind Integration Study, a project undertaken by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission resulting from 2005 legislation. The study report, which was published late last year, shows that by 2020 up to 20 percent of the state’s electrical energy could economically come from wind without adverse supply or reliability impacts. The report assumed, as part of its baseline, that certain facilities already were in place. [The study also misleadingly used wind data smoothed to hourly averages.]

Included in those assumptions was that eastern North Dakota and eastern South Dakota would contribute to Minnesota’s wind energy resource and that Big Stone II with its associated transmission would be built. The [coal] plant is needed as a source of baseload generation and to help ensure voltage stability between the Dakotas and Minnesota. Big Stone transmission upgrades are needed to help deliver energy from Minnesota’s wind-rich Buffalo Ridge.

Thus, in order for Minnesota to realize the goals of the Legislature’s “25 by 25” mandate, there must be a Big Stone II. ...
And an article in the Feb. 27 Newsday reports that the developer of a giant new high-voltage transmission line in central New York is selling it as a spur to wind energy development. Interestingly, Senator Hilary Clinton is critical of the transmission project yet an active proponent of wind development. It thus appears to be purely symbolic for her as it proves to be for all.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism